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A Day in the Life 

by Inlander Staff & r & I'm riding along the Centennial Trail in the heat of an early Sunday afternoon, still wet from a jump in the Spokane River. Groaning across the apex of the bridge over Hamilton Street, I swerve to avoid running over a couple of kids, dawdling along toward Gonzaga. As gravity pulls me past them and toward downtown, one of the kids, a portly preteen boy, yells, "Hey, you smoke weed?"


Do I smoke weed?


"Nope," I call over my shoulder.


"That sucks," he shouts back, almost derisively.





We wrote our first "Day in the Life" two years ago. Maybe you saw it. We liked doing it so much that we brought it back this year, sending eight writers out with cameras to try to capture snapshots of the Inland Northwest, beginning at dawn on Friday, Aug. 5, and ending at dawn the next day. The result is a mosaic of those moments and experiences - some quotidian, some surreal (like the encounter with the pot-smoking kid), some totally meaningless - that make up our daily lives in this place we call home. --Joel Smith


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5:39 am The Birth Place, Sacred Heart Hospital & r & Siannah Mae Powers will be mortified to read this 13 years from now, but I was present at her first-ever bath. I can report that while her skin was a startling shade of red, she didn't cry much.


"The cold air was a shock," says Eileen Davis, a registered nurse who, on a typical shift, assists at a half-dozen births. Davis sticks a needle in her tiny patient's thigh; Siannah responds with a strenuous, high-decibel objection.


Somebody makes a comment about strong lungs.


"Oh, she's putting on a show now," says Davis. "That [needle] was for hepatitis -- hep and vitamin K are the first two."


"Not even five hours old, and already getting her shots," mumbles Siannah's mother Amanda, still groggy from childbirth and yet willing to allow a couple of complete strangers into her postnatal recovery room.


Wrapped up in a nice, cozy blanket and back near her mother, Siannah leaves off grasping her mother's fingers. "Oh, I just found that one little finger of mine," says Amanda, giving voice to her tiny daughter's thoughts. For Siannah Mae Powers-- all 8 pounds of her -- it is the first of many future discoveries. --Michael Bowen





6:40 am Hillyard Skate Park & r & Wave meets wave as low-trajectory sunlight creeps over the lip of the big bowl and drops in, giving definition to the softly undulating shapes -- carving glowing crescents out of the negative spaces. It's irresistible. And with the skate park virtually empty except for a lone pair of skaters, it almost feels like I'm alone with the concrete waves. Only the last time I threw myself at a vertical surface, Tony Hawk was still a teenager.


The sprinklers tick away. Other than that and the occasional vehicle passing by on Market Street, it's pretty quiet. Normally, this place is buzzing with kids. But at sunrise, progress takes a slower pace. It's a good time to get in a little practice, I'm told, without getting creamed.


When the skaters see my vintage deck they smile, "Wow, that is old school." I watch them for awhile as they carve a bowl and take shots at the lip. Then I mount my own five-ply and go to work relearning basics: feeling transitions and getting frontsides down. It comes back to me pretty fast. The skaters offer to let me ride their newfangled boards, but I politely decline. "Thanks, but mine's nice and slow," I say. "Gotta work up to it, you know?" --Mike Corrigan





7:14 am Near University Road and Eighth Avenue, Spokane Valley & r & Linda Williams makes a great carpool buddy: She's prompt, her Mazda is immaculate, and "at least I'm not putting on my mascara and yakking away on my cell phone," she jokes.


From her home in the Dishman-Mica area, she has a 16-mile, 25-minute commute to Avista HQ on Mission Avenue.


This morning, we're off to pick up Sue Miner, who, like Williams, works as an assistant to Avista's VP of Human Resources. Their carpool has a shifting schedule. "Shelly would be here this morning, but she's having her carpets cleaned," Williams explains.


Traffic is sparse on the Sprague couplet, so it's easy to socialize. "We're friends at work, and this is sort of an extension of that," says Williams, adding that ride-sharing even extends to using the car for lunch-time errands. Besides, you save on gas money, you avoid driving hassles and you get a special parking area. And if a coworker like Shelly prefers to leave right at 5 o'clock, you even get to punch out earlier.


During the evening drive-time, Williams knows she'll have someone to talk to -- how her day went, what she's got going on tonight. Carpooling is for friends on the move. --Michael Bowen





8:05 am Leifer Wheat Farm, St. John & r & The air is still cool in the wheat fields of St. John on this quiet August morning, but the sun is already heating things up. There's no sound except the low twitter of birds and the rustle of deer in low vegetation on a nearby hillside. Jim Leifer stands in front of his combine, putting it back together after a breakdown the previous afternoon. On a normal day -- if there is such a thing during harvest -- he would start cutting grain by 8 am, after fueling his two wheat trucks and greasing up the combine. Instead, he's tightening pulleys and reattaching belts. He hopes to be cutting grain by 10 o'clock; his day won't end until well after dark.


The Leifer family farms 1,600 acres of wheat and barley in St. John, about 15 miles south of his boyhood farm home near Pine City. He left for college, work and graduate school but returned to the farming life. He wouldn't want to do anything else.


"When I'm cutting up on the top of that hill, I can see 80 miles south, 10 miles north, and miles east and west," he says. "This is why I farm." --Ann Colford





9:52 am Northern Quest Casino & r & The sun beats down on acres of pavement surrounding the newly expanded Northern Quest Casino in Airway Heights this morning. The parking lots are far from full, but a steady stream of customers -- guests, in casino lingo -- roll in. The place bustles even at this early hour.


The crowd on a weekday morning is different from what you'd see on evenings and weekends. It's mostly local seniors, regulars, people who know the staff by name. Many come here less for the gaming than for the socializing, meeting over coffee in the Woodlands or maybe picking a prime people-watching spot in the new noodle bar.


At the Legends of Fire Lounge, two women approach, disappointed to find a velvet cord draped across the entrance. The lounge won't open till 11 am, they're told, but they're welcome to grab a cup of coffee in the Woodlands.


"Coffee?" one of the women scoffs. "I want a Bloody Mary!"


They wander back onto the gaming floor, and quickly disappear amid the flashing neon and the digitized serenade of the quarter slots. --Ann Colford





10:08 am The Urban Canine & r & Amore is what you might call a spoiled bitch. She and her best friend, Bella, are simply used to the best. They are washed, combed, brushed and poofed once a month. Neither has much to say.


Amore and Bella, two blindingly white Bichon dogs imported from Ireland, are regulars here at the Urban Canine dog salon. Bella is fluffed on one table; Amore cooperates at another as her tail is lifted, butt snipped, legs freed of any stray hairs. Occasionally the overwhelming sense of relaxation crumbles Amore's ladylike appearance. In these moments, she glances up at Sandra Severson, her groomer, with a wide-toothed, tonguey grin -- the only sign that this actually a dog and not a motorized toy. Severson secures a pink bow above Amore's left ear and steps back. Looking at them, it seems wrong even to file these two perfect specimens in the canine genus -- these are the Paris Hilton and Nicole Ritchie of dogs. Bella groans as she's put back into her cage, turns in a circle and plops atop a quilted pillow. Being a cute bitch is just so -- sigh -- hard. --Leah Sottile





11:52 am Construction at Third and Stevens, Spokane & r & With the summer in full force and Spokane finally able to fund it, every day new construction sites are fiendishly popping up. The once smooth portal into the South Hill, Stevens Avenue, is now torn up into something more like a street in Baghdad.


Everybody seems to agree that too many roads are torn up, but the amount of construction even gets to those who are part of it. "All this road construction is ridiculous," says Stacey Simpkins, the young sign-turner who commands the intersection of Stevens and Third.


The heat and noise seem to get to the drivers, too, as the four-lane road dwindles to just one lane and cars are forced to cram together. Just standing on the side and watching the action makes me feel like I'm going to pass out from the heat, but the workers in their orange and yellow uniforms tough it out with unrivaled ease.


"It's definitely hot and miserable," Simpkins says. "But we get through with a lot of water and Gatorade." --Brian Everstine





12:25 pm Constant Creations Tattoos & r & Pam Schiller jumps as the needle approaches the back of her neck.


"I thought I felt it," she says. "It's the anticipation." Pam, an anesthesiologist from Newport, is getting her first tattoo.


Earlier, she briefly discussed her design with artist Constance Eller, and they worked out the small details of the tattoo. Is the art too large? Should they lose the sunburst rays? Once both are comfortable with the design, Pam gets the release form and Constance sets about wrapping her tools and making an inkwell out of wax. They joke about needles. Constance creates a template and applies it to Pam's neck.


While waiting for Pam to arrive, Constance had picked up around the shop; her granddaughter, Asia, played on the computer, the sounds of Disney and Mickey Mouse a counterpoint to the distinctive voice of Jello Biafra. Throughout the next hour, Asia becomes the hidden source of cartoon sound effects.


Pam's tattoo is quickly finished, inspected and bandaged. Instructions for care are given. As she and her husband Jason step out into the afternoon heat, a customer from the day before stops back in so Constance can snap a picture of his new armband with feathers. --Josh Smith





1:01 pm Spokane River & r & The baking sun is deflected behind a thin screen of conifers near Flora Road. The river whispers, shallow water the green of old bottle glass.


Daryl Van Note checks his camera, ready to take yearbook portraits of a friend's daughter, who is going to be a senior at Cheney High School.


An elongated shadow the color of shining dark chocolate drifts past only feet away. A moose -- a 3- or 4-year-old bull with nascent velvet antlers -- slopes over to a willow thicket.


Daryl is cautious. Angela preps. Her friend Annetta is more freaked out to see the lipstick has melted.


A teenager -- moose-like himself on long legs -- lopes along the riverbank, stops on a flat rock out in the current and pulls out a cell phone. I imagine the opener: "Hey, I'm standing next to this moose ..."


I shrug at the boy, asking, "Hey man, what the hell's up with you?"


The boy shrugs back and smiles. His answer is clear: "Hey man, look: It's a hot, cloudless day, and I am loping across the tumbled, jumbled rocks alongside the green-tinted river as it whispers its way to the sea; and there is a convergence of pine receding like a vee of geese into the distance ahead of me, and I am imagining I am not in a city and its concrete channels do not shape the currents of my life and all of a sudden there is this moose. A moose shaped by the river itself." --Kevin Taylor





2:24 pm The offices of Lineberger Gaffney-Brown & r & The elevators in the Paulsen Building groan ominously as I ride to the seventh-floor attorneys' office, but I figure at least I'll have plenty of beautiful architectural details to admire if I get stuck. The doors swish open, though, and I'm released.


All is quiet in the firm's reception area. A young woman stuffs envelopes in the conference room, while another works on a computer database in an adjacent office. Partner Mary Ellen Gaffney-Brown greets me and invites me into her corner office overlooking downtown buildings and Riverfront Park beyond.


The offices are cool and comfortable despite the midday heat. It's Friday, so everyone -- attorneys included -- wears casual clothing. Gaffney-Brown's legal assistant, Melissa, is working her last day for the firm, so balloons adorn her cubicle and a few pieces of homemade sponge cake remain on a plate.


Gaffney-Brown's desk is tidy, with neat piles of thick folders and binders on the credenza. Her specialty is bankruptcy law and about two-thirds of her time now is taken up with one case -- the Chapter Seven bankruptcy of Metropolitan Investment Securities.


Phones ring, computers hum, paperwork moves about. The office is a picture of focused efficiency. --Ann Colford





3:10 pm Minnehaha climbing park & r & Cracks and booms from the police armory across the river pepper the soundscape as two men, covered in blood, stumble out of the trees supported by their rescuers.


They're students at a survival school, their blood as fake as their "injuries." Their exercise leader calls out to them as they approach their base camp: "You're healed, you're healed -- let's get moving."


Soon the airmen are moving as a group to a narrow crevasse to rescue a spinal injury victim who cannot assist in his own rescue.


Otherwise the park is nearly empty. An older man begins preparations to climb a nearby rock face. The airmen begin snapping off hanging branches, clearing out a way for the stretcher. Twenty-five long minutes later, the victim is passed along a human chain to the open trail near the base of the cliff. The students head for their base camp as I head in the opposite direction to see if the rest of the park is as empty as it sounds. --Josh Smith





4:22 pm KXLY-TV studio & r & The 5 o'clock broadcast is only 38 minutes away, but KXLY staffers are moving through the newsroom's honeycomb of low, sleek desks at an almost casual pace. The air is filled with news chatter: "Next time anyone talks to Kurt, tell him he's live on the head tease." Producers at their computers -- surrounded by banks and walls and 15-foot high tracks of televisions -- call out updates on a fire in Sandpoint, a traffic accident near Coeur d'Alene ("A couple of cars, nobody dead," one says. "Oh," another sighs.)


But you wouldn't say that the news station was "a-buzz." Tension is slack. Anchorman Richard Brown trades puns with the producers, and when I snap his picture, he snaps back, light-heartedly, "Dude, you gotta let me know when you're going to do that. You know how vain I am." ("Dude"?)


The night's top stories shift constantly. Do they go with the fire? The FBI's seizure of Jim West's computer? The opener on the teleprompter changes at least twice. But at 4:57, 30 seconds from air, when Brown bellows, "Have a good broadcast, everyone" and the whole station chimes back, like a class of kindergarteners, "You, too, Richard!" it becomes clear that this is just another workday. --Joel Smith





5:27 pm Nine Mile Falls & r & Cindy Gardner announces that she's "going in" to investigate my energy field, and I'm not feeling entirely comfortable about it.


Except for the tinkling New Age music and the collection of crystalline spheres, nothing about Gardner's comfortable middle-class living room would lead you to believe that she performs "angel readings." She's a bubbly woman with penetrating eyes -- very likable, very normal.


Then she reveals that my 8-year-old daughter and I are so emotionally close because 400 years ago, on the coast of Portugal, Kylie and I were the parents of 12 children. My daughter, it seems, was the wife of that merry old Portuguese fisherman, me.


When I express worry about the classic job vs. family conflict, however, Gardner creates one uncanny moment: She advises me to spend more time with my daughter -- on Wednesday nights. Which is, because of my wife's new work schedule, precisely the weeknight that Kylie and I will be spending together this school year. Oooh.


When a psychic gets you talking about your hopes and anxieties, it's seductive to have them reflected back with understanding. But Gardner loses me somewhere around my past life of 1,500 years ago -- the one when Kylie and I were telepathic twins. --Michael Bowen





6:25 pm Savageland & r & Our lobster lights up with an internal constellation of fiery red stars as it vibrates across the table. My daughter Rona looks up from her Cheerios to see what the racket is. Weaving around 8-to-10-year-old children, teens and their parents, I take it to the order pickup counter, exchanging vibrating Lobster Number 29 for two small pizzas, and make my way back to our table.


The ambient volume has increased since we arrived, as a series of birthday parties gets started in the main dining area. Ginny Whitehouse, who arrived just moments before the lobster rang with her two daughters, Kaili and Marie, is admiring the bamboo wall treatment and African tribal masks.


After dinner, I follow Kaili into the Babylon of play structures. I am barely able to keep up as she scrambles through the labyrinth of netting, children and giant tubes. The tunnels seem just too small to get good crawling momentum going. My neck begins to ache with the need to stand up straight. Which isn't to say it's not fun.


"C'mon, let's go this way," Kaili says matter-of-factly, ducking down another colored plastic tubeway. Sighing, I decide to follow her. --Josh Smith





7:15 pm Liquid Life Espresso & r & A staple of larger cities is a bustling arts scene, which a majority of Spokanites think does not exist here. However, according to Frazier Hubbard, the owner of Liquid Life Espresso, the arts scene is great for the size of the city.


"We are doing a lot of things -- Spokane is really proactive," Hubbard said. "Like First Friday -- Spokane is letting people see all sorts of artists and styles."


Liquid Life Espresso, located on Sprague across from the bus station, is one of the little shops that does what it can to help out. The walls of the Internet caf & eacute; are lined with works by local artists, including mosaic work done by Pat Clay and photography by Andrea Faith Workman. The diverse pieces in the small space shows the amount of support for the arts that exists here.


Support, Hubbard says, is most important to the survival of the Spokane scene.


"You rarely see people buying the art." Hubbard said. "People need to go out and support. Even if it's buying a $20 piece, it counts." --Brian Everstine





8:23 pm People's Park/High Bridge Park & r & We've all heard stories of those too-well-dressed, 30- or 40-something men wandering aimlessly but nervously through People's and High Bridge Parks around dark. As a regular High Bridge disc golfer, I've seen 'em.


But I always thought People's Park was the worse offender. Not so, at least not tonight. Mike and I -- he in aviator glasses, cigarette dangling from his lips, and me in a pink shirt -- wander down to the supposed nude beach at the confluence of Hangman Creek and the Spokane River. No orgies, no nudity. Just some drunken burnouts, a mother with her three little girls and a Playboy on the rocks.


High Bridge, on the other hand, is positively bustling. We cruise up and down the park's gravel drive, and we're followed constantly. Single guy in a pickup truck. Single guy in a sports car. Single guy in an RV. Everyone's sneaking glances at each other, as if waiting for a signal. Dust is everywhere, turning headlights into glowing orbs in the twilight. A pickup backs itself into a hole in some bushes; a minivan parks across its front.


It's like what Riverside used to be like on a Saturday night, Mike says. But with more hot lovin', I'd wager. --Joel Smith





9:04 pm Tilt Arcade & r & There was a time when going to the arcade was cheap fun. In my day, Area 51, Mortal Kombat and San Francisco Rush were the games. Even though it wasn't the time of Pac-Man, my friends and I could still spend hours at the arcade for only a few dollars. As I walk into Tilt in the Valley Mall, though, it seems like a different place.


I had a plan to watch someone give up their time, sweat and quarters to Dance Dance Revolution. When I casually ask to take a picture, however, I'm swiftly and rancorously rejected -- basically, exiled from the area. Which makes me ask, what have my beloved arcades become? Games are no longer a quarter; some are up to $1.50. What happened?


As the metal bars close down on the mall, like a cell door slamming shut on an inmate, it becomes obvious that arcades are no longer about fun and wasting away your youth in front with sweet, glowing violence. Now it's all about money; arcades are a harsh business. (As a kid, I was very naive. I guess I realize that it was probably always about the money.) --Brian Everstine





10:06 pm East Sprague Avenue & r & The first sign of life I encounter as I head east from downtown along this well-traveled route is Vinnie, everyone's favorite Dick's Hamburgers denizen, shambling in the opposite direction past the Spokane Budget Saver Motel. Go west, young man.


The East 1200 block -- that's where it usually starts to get interesting. But tonight it's calm and almost completely deserted. Reputed to be a hot bed of illicit love, the 10 blocks between here and Tiger Tattoo appear tonight much freer of street vice than is West Second these days. I mean, the most action right now in this neighborhood is found at the Hoot Owl Club. And the hardest thing they're downing there are Diet Cokes.


While the streets are relatively clean, the connoisseurs of naughty fun emerging from full-sized pickup trucks are presumably still well-serviced behind closed doors -- at places like World Wide Video and the venerable Rainbow Tavern, which proudly advertises, "Warm Beer & amp; Cold Women."


A few doors down, the new kid on the block, the Bollywood Grocery, lights up the strip with glowing fluorescents. It's the last thing that flickers in my peripheral vision as I pull away with a sudden notion to catch up to Vinnie. He's got the right idea, after all. --Mike Corrigan





11:22 pm Zip's in Cheney & r & It's nearing midnight at Zip's, and there's hardly a soul in the place. Pseudo-angry rock music blares from the sleepy kitchen. Out in the dining room, among the dull, brown Naugahyde booths, under amber flower-petal lights, a quartet of college students murmurs dispassionately. Two high school girls, dragging a pre-teen boy behind them, settle in and devour burnt, crunchy French fries and milkshakes. Three college women (summer schoolers?) place their orders at the counter, then gambol into the back of the dining room, one of them remarking, "It smells like old people in here."


I'd been told that Zip's would be jumping, this time on a Friday night. But the little 24-hour grease trap seems to be putting everyone to sleep. The college girls have stopped gamboling, dropping into hushed conversational tones. Backwards cap, cargo shorts-wearing frat boys stroll across the parking lot outside in high spirits. With their food in front of them they hunch over, speak in clipped sentences, stare out the plate glass windows at quiet First Street.


I secretly hope that some Seahawks will show up and turn this place inside out. But they never show. It's past their curfew. --Joel Smith





12:50 am Dempsey's Brass Rail & r & There's at least one 21st birthday in the house tonight, and one of them is being ravished onstage right now, midway through the Friday night drag show.


"Arch your back! Stick your butt out! You wanted it!" an effeminate young man squeals, egged on by the front row of middle-aged women as he delivers two dozen limp-wristed spanks to a birthday girl. Everyone giggles, and the show restarts with performers in all-new costumes.


Tonight's host -- a husky gal who could have been a linebacker in a previous life -- emerges in a floor-length white satin dress, shimmying to the beat. In a blink, her dress is flying and she's half naked, sporting a tassel-heavy leotard thing and white go-go boots. She lip-syncs the words, barely missing a beat after an onstage cartwheel. The crowd shoots out of their seats, stuffing dollar bills in her top and between her teeth. Bills are flying, and a few guys lose their shirts. The last note hits, she collects more bills and blows the crowd a kiss. They freak. Anywhere else, she might be a guy in a dress; here, she's fabulous. --Leah Sottile





1:12 am Wal-Mart Superstore in Spokane Valley & r & Is it day or is it night? There is quite simply no way to tell deep inside this disorienting temple of American consumerism gone berserk. Sodium vapor beams pierce retinas as you are repeatedly thumped over the head with smug smiley faces and the slogan: "Low Prices. Always."


Even Wal-Mart gets pretty dead at this hour, though not as dead as one might imagine. These aren't your typical Wal-Mart shoppers, either. It's actually something of an upgrade from a typical shopping experience here, not only because the aisles aren't clogged with frazzled parents and their broods but because the entire atmosphere at the Superstore in the middle of the night is noticeably lighter than usual, even festive. And though you're still apt at some point to round an end cap and come face to face with the visage of death (employee or customer, take your pick), you're just as likely to encounter random groups of happy drunks, giggling teenagers and other assorted no-good-niks. They're utilizing the place more for sport than out of necessity while also taking perverse joy in the instantly familiar -- not to mention those bins full of dollar DVDs. (Don't laugh; they're usually worth every penny.) --Mike Corrigan





2:12 am The Grail, Huetter, Idaho & r & The first rule of night club: "Ladies like to go out." And when the ladies go out, continues young, surfer-blond Lang Sumner, "they like to dress up and they like to have fun. They don't like being in a place where guys punch each other in the ear. Or where they get groped or grabbed."


Unfortunately, I've arrived just in time for closing. So Sumner and house DJ Jared Erny tag-team me for an hour, sermonizing on why the Grail, a hip-hop club in unlikely Huetter, Idaho, is the place where the ladies like to go out.


"It's no smoking, and we play a lot of R & amp;B, a lot of hip-hop, house, hardcore, and we've had [Atlanta's] Ying Yang Twins here -- right here. All the regulars are cool, our customers are cream of the crop and anybody who messes up goes to jail, and hey! take a look at our patio -- we have a bubble machine that makes everyone act like a 7-year-old, and we've had church in here. Yeah, absolutely. And the ID scanner shows it's 60 percent Spokane, racially diverse and our No. 1 customer is a 25-year-old female.


"And we have no bouncers here, we have hosts -- hosts, not bouncers. Bouncers bounce people, that's no fun." --Kevin Taylor





3:28 am Stateline Showgirls & r & The small, low platform at the center of the room is crowded with strippers showing off varying degrees of undress and silicon enhancement. Music pounds, red lights glare, the few disco balls hanging from the low ceiling send a spray of tiny lights around the dark room, as the DJ -- with one of those overwrought, retching radio voices -- tries to get the patrons revved up about a 3-for-1 deal on private dances.


The crowd is into it. For the last hour, they've sat hunched in their bucket chairs, leering upward as Amazons with nothing on writhe lithely between gleaming poles. A couple of guys at the far end of the stage hoot and holler; the rest (almost all male, almost all in their 30s or 40s) just stare -- studiously, appraisingly -- as the women gyrate before them. Lust pours out of them.


But the strippers, who should be dripping with sex at this point, look utterly bored. They're chatting with each other, looking blankly around the room. They're in another world. They resemble, if nothing else, confined cattle. A few jiggle their asses prosaically, trying to make an effort. When the DJ relents they hit the floor to solicit expensive private tangos.


A long work night is almost over. --Joel Smith





4:24 am Shari's at Monroe and Indiana & r & It seemed perfect that midway through this Day in the Life shit, I would get in a fight with my boyfriend. We squabbled, apologized, hugged, made up. But inconveniently, we were more tired than ever. Red-eyed, hungry and still needing to finish one more assignment, we shirked going to watch the freaks at Frankie Doodle's and chose the late night we-got-in-a-fight-but-are-happy-again couples center of the West Coast: Shari's. At this hour, it's just nice to be with someone.


And it seemed like everyone there (except the Magic the Gathering geeks in the next table over) felt the same way. A girl still in clubbing clothes finished off a prime rib, gazing doe-eyed across the table at her date. Arguing couples were tying up loose ends, apologizing for things that shouldn't have been said and sitting side-by-side in booths meant for four. No one comes to Shari's this late unless they've made up -- if they haven't, they'd be off drinking alone.


Our mozzarella sticks and two Harry's Fish and Mac's arrived as the Magic guys argued over whose turn it was to attack. Silently we scraped our plates, listening to other people making up. Elton John's "Your Song" drifts on over the sound system, and more than one couple stops, kisses, clasps hands. At this hour, even the cheesiest song is the white flag that everyone needs. --Leah Sottile





5:33 am Kalispel Indian Powwow Ground & r & "Sing!" The padded heads of drumsticks beat the taut skin and voices rise.


"Sing!"


The world curves toward another dawn. Mist draping the broad Pend Oreille River releases its hold and lifts, like ghostly arms outstretched, into brightening sky.


"Sing!"


Voices ascend in a corner of the powwow ground where Diana James, a member of the San Poil bands of the Colville Confederated Tribes, is among the diehard stick game players. Two lines are left, facing each other.


"Sing!"


The contest of song and wits started long before, when the sun had called an end to Friday, and continued through the bitter dark hours when the powwow grounds security crew huddled near their burn barrel.


"Long time ago, we didn't play like we do now, singing all these different songs," James says. "Long time ago, it was whose song was the most powerful."


The sun is clocking its way around from the far side, racing to meet the game again, to belly-skim above the tall ridge to the east.


"Sing!"


Osprey stagger onto a pole above the gate, bleary as husbands before breakfast. The sun bursts over the ridge, shadows leap toward the river. There are only a few sticks left to kill. Steam rises from coffee held in arms outstretched.


"Sing!" --Kevin Taylor

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